MINNEAPOLIS -- Offensively, Yan Gomes has undoubtedly been the Indians' best hitter over the past month. Defensively, he's rock solid behind the plate while providing relief to starter Carlos Santana.
It's been hard for manager Terry Francona to keep Gomes out of the lineup at all, considering his .373 average since July 3 and .444 mark so far in August. But the skipper has as much, if not more, praise for what the Brazilian native means to the team as a catcher.
"When he plays, catch him," Francona said. "First of all, he's a good catcher. Anytime you play him ... you want to let Carlos get off his feet. It's a huge bonus to get a guy that not only catches, [but] catches well and adds offensively. So we've tried to add to his workload because of it. I think he makes us a pretty good team."
In Tuesday's win over the Twins, Gomes laced a single to left, and later he roped a double down the right-field line.
"He's kind of got a little bit of a crouch a little lower than he used to be," Francona said, "and he's staying down through the ball, instead of coming up, off [of it]. And that's why he's driving the ball to right. And when they come in and make a mistake, he's been pulling the ball with authority. But, man, he's been a blessing for us."
"It's really just been trying to simplify everything with [hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo]," Gomes said. "We've been doing a lot of work in the cage just trying to maintain everything simple. I used to have a pretty long swing before with a leg kick. So just try to simplify everything, and it's been going well."
Even though there's no debating Gomes' value to the team behind the dish, there's also no debate over who is Cleveland's No. 1 backstop.
"Santana's our catcher. I don't know if it matters -- one, two, three," Francona said. "We have two catchers, and they're both pretty good. When [Gomes] plays, it just seems to make sense to catch him."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.